Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Family Tree Maker 2008 Beta First Thoughts

NOTE: Family Tree Maker 2008 has been released and is no longer in beta or available for download.

**The Genealogy software program Family Tree Maker 2008 is available at The Ancestry Store and is constantly being updated and improved. **

Because FTM 2008 is such a completely new program with a whole new look and architecture, TGN is releasing a public beta so they can get comments from a large amount of potential users. If you decide to download the beta, be sure to send any comments or problems to the email address found on Family Tree Maker 2008 BETA .

It took a long time for me to download the program, but I understand there is a lot of debugging code still in the software as most beta releases have, so hopefully the program should be streamlined and faster by the time of the final release in mid-August. If you are on dial up or do not want to download at this time, Family Tree Maker 2008 BETA has some screen shots so you can see what the new FTM looks like.

Things I like about the new program:

  • Photos and sources are now linked instead of embedded into program. This should keep data files down to a more manageable size.
  • Sources can now be assigned a quality rating from one to four stars. You can use the built-in standardized rating system based on Elizabeth Shown Mills' excellent book, Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian or you can devise your own source rating method.
  • Notes can be made private on an individual basis. This is one feature I have really wanted and I have many notes that I will privatize so they don't appear on reports.
  • Both the pedigree and family group are on the same page, so there is no need to toggle back and forth between screens. Editing is done in the right panel. If you don't like this look, you can configure the family view by dragging or collapsing panes.
  • Web searches can be performed for each individual person not just on but on , Google, Yahoo and more. The searches are preset with the name and year. You can use the "webclipper" to save text or images found on the Internet to FTM. Also, you can add your favorite websites to be searched.
  • There are multiple notes for each individual, and notes for each fact and event. The text in notes can be formatted.
  • Places are integrated with Microsoft Virtual Earth.
  • Automatically shows relationship of any person in file to home person. I set the home person to me, but you can choose anyone in the file to be the home person.

  • The new TimeLine View that lists personal, family, and historic events.

Things I don't like:

  • No books YET. The program says Books are "coming soon". Since FTM 2008 is a complete rebuild, it is not surprising that some things are not yet ready.
  • The Place Authority, which is used to resolve place names by making sure a place is spelled correctly and used in a consistent format throughout your family tree file, doesn't put the word county after county name. And I don't see a way to add it. I prefer Jersey City, Hudson County, New Jersey. The Place Authority database suggests Jersey City, Hudson, New Jersey, USA. I can choose to ignore the Place Authority, however. I'll have to think about which notation is really best for me, as I really like the idea of matching my places against the Place Authority database.

There are obviously a lot of things I have not yet tried. The program is easy to use, but if you are used to earlier versions of FTM, you will find it quite different at first. I have imported a copy of my data file into the beta and have just being going from screen to screen clicking on everything to see how it works. After a little bit of doing this, the program seems pretty intuitive and very easy to navigate. It's nice to be able to give a program a try before deciding whether to purchase it.

Family Tree Maker 2008


djr said...

I personally am glad to see that "county" doesn't automatically get added. But then, I live in Louisiana which has parishes instead of counties. Every time FTM adds "county" I see red!

Unknown said...

I too don't want "County" added to place names - most of my places are in the UK and "County" is not added like some placs in the US - so it would really mess up my file if they did!

Unknown said...

The Place Authority recognizes LA and would put Parish if it had County and Parish in it. It aslo has UK lisitngs.

Wayne said...

For most of us in the U.S., we would really like to have the word County with place names. Maybe an option for foreign users or those states with Parishes.


Peter said...

There should be a facility to define you own place names and associate these with a place on the map

- so that it is possible to get the search engine to recognise all place names.